2701.7.14.10.52 – Wolf 359; Starbase Hera
The next morning I woke up with Malia lying in my arms, our clothes and the bedcovers strewn over the floor. My back was sore from the scratches Malia had inflicted on me with her short, manicured nails, but otherwise I felt terrific - not even a hint of a hangover. I smiled at the lurid memories of the enthusiasm, endurance, imagination and flexibility Malia had shown me the night before, caressing the warm, soft and flawlessly smooth skin of her back as she dozed against my chest. Malia sighed with contentment, stirring gently. When she opened her eyes I noticed for the first time that her green irises were flecked with tiny motes of glorious, almost iridescent amber.
"Was last night really that good or did I dream it?" Malia asked, her thin arms tightening around my shoulders and waist.
"It wasn't a dream." I replied, turning Malia onto her back and lying over her.
Malia wrapped her slender legs over mine, trapping me against her. Exactly where I wanted to be, I slid one arm under her shoulders to cradle the back of her head, my other hand holding the sensuous curve from the top of her left hip to her narrow waist. Our bodies seemed to mould perfectly against each other as we kissed, and I made love to her, slowly, with a languid tenderness in total contrast to our frantic couplings the night before. I looked deep into her amber-green eyes, transfixed as she stared right back at me, as if peering into my soul. Malia cried out as she climaxed, her orgasm triggering mine, clinging to me manically with her arms and legs as she felt me flow inside her.
"Oh, god!" Malia's nails dug into my shoulders as our bodies quivered against each other. Our ecstasy subsiding, I started to untangle myself from her, only for Malia to stop me with a whisper. "No, don't... I like the feel of you in me."
"Okay." I took several deep, rasping breaths to recover, stroking her metallic blue hair.
"Oh, wow..." Malia brushed away the beads of sweat from her forehead with her fingertips, still panting hard. "I've not been fucked like that in a long time."
"What do you mean?"
"You know, like someone actually loves you."
"Kind of tragic, I know." Malia still managed to find a smile. "My job makes it difficult to hold down a long-term relationship."
"What is your job, exactly?"
"See those?" Malia pointed out of the window, where the massive forms of the dreadnoughts Erebus and Tartarus were entering into synchronous orbits with the Starbase prior to mooring at the apex of the docking barrel.
"What about them?"
"Shiju-Raytheon X-56A Primordial-class Dreadnoughts." Malia identified the manufacturer, class and subtype of the immense ships without even thinking about it. "I designed their life support systems. And those on your Titan-class Battlecruiser. And the one on this starbase, actually. I travel a lot supervising upgrades and design revisions."
"I thought you might spend a lot of time in space. It would explain your rather immaculate figure. There's hardly a gram of fat on you." I said, gently teasing her flat, toned stomach and the firm cones of her breasts for emphasis. All deep space workers were obliged to complete two hours of daily aerobic exercise to stave off the muscle and bone atrophy that was a side effect of working in zero-g, deep space conditions, as well as follow a calcium-rich diet to delay the onset of bone thinning in the skeleton.
"Well, that and my vanity." Malia replied tartly, placing her hands over mine and shivering as I caressed her dark, erect nipples.
"So you use your job as an excuse to substitute for long-term intimacy with one-night stands?" I asked, nuzzling the base of her long, smooth neck.
"Something like that. I've never been short of takers." Malia breathed lowly in reply, her eyes closed.
"But you never wanted something more? Marriage? Kids?"
"I'm not sure I'm the marrying kind. Too restless. And I like the variety. What about you?"
"I tried marriage, but I rushed into it. It didn't work out in the end."
"I'm sorry to hear that, Gus." Malia tightened her thighs around my hips, making me groan as she pressed me deeper into her.
"It's okay. My ex and I are still friends. She's my Executive Officer, as it happens."
"But?" Malia gorgeous eyes peered into me again, sensing my unresolved feelings for Kat.
"She's leaving the service. Starting a family back on Earth."
"That's why you were so miserable back in the bar."
"Yeah." I rested my cheek on Malia's shoulder as she stroked the back of my neck soothingly. I kissed her behind the ear, drawing a long breath. "Oh, you smell good. It's so strange, getting used to the scent and feel of someone new after being with only one person for so long."
"It's the opposite for me. Wondering whether I'd get bored of being with the same person, night after night." Malia replied, rolling her hips in tiny circles to prolong our arousal. "But I think I want to see you again."
"I'd like that too, Malia."
"Gus, I ship out to the Omega Nebula tomorrow night." Malia held me tightly, a pained look etched across her gaunt features. "I'm supervising the upgrade of the water reclamation system at FOB Poseidon."
Even though it was still almost 1000 light years short of the hotly-contested front line in the Eagle Nebula, the Forward Operating Base on the fringes of the Omega Nebula was a vitally important staging area for TCF ships looking to secure the region. The construction of a starbase almost identical to Hera was within weeks of being finished, which would allow the forces deployed in the region to be resupplied and redeployed in days, rather than months. It was hoped that the completion of the starbase would help consolidate the TCF's control within the region and tip the balance in the ongoing battle with the Thrinax in the Eagle Nebula.
"When are you due back?" I asked, trying not to sound too disappointed.
"I'll be on patrol by then." I told her, crestfallen.
"For how long?"
"Six months, maybe more."
"Shit." Malia swore, with feeling. "You finally meet someone who might be worth a damn and the universe wants to keep you apart."
"We can still stay in touch. If you send me your schedule, we can arrange to meet when we're both back in the area."
"You damn well better." Malia told me, levering me onto my back with her legs, pressing my shoulders down into the mattress as she started to ride me, grinding her hips down against mine. Words were no longer necessary as we communicated with our bodies and eyes, the cadence of our breathing informing us how to respond to the other's motions.
"Don't stop, Malia. Don't stop." I whispered between gritted teeth, my hands exploring her slender curves as her fingers dug into my chest and shoulders. For the second time that morning, our climax was mutual, simultaneous and bone-jarring, our torsos pressed against each other as we embraced hard, clinging together as the exquisite paroxysms gripped us.
"Oh, Gus." Malia groaned, breathless, lying back down on my chest. "I could get used to that."
"I could, too." We kissed like teenagers during their first experience of romance, a lingering, almost electrical discharge of erotic touches of our lips and tongues that sent tingles down my spine.
I could sense Malia's reluctance when she slipped out of my arms to sit on the edge of the bed. "I'd love to do this all day, but I have to get ready for tomorrow. God, it's nearly noon already."
"That's okay. Too much more of this and I'll have a heart attack." I replied, my pulse still racing with excitement. "Why don't you freshen up and I'll make us something to eat."
I pointed Malia to the bathroom and made my own way to the kitchen unit, raiding the refrigerator and cupboards for inspiration. I sliced two bagels in half, smearing the open side of the dense bread rings with tomato puree. I then sprinkled dried oregano over the crimson paste, topping the bagel with slices of paprika-seasoned pastrami and thick slices of emmental cheese, topping off each bagel with a raw egg, before baking them in the oven for fifteen minutes. I was just retrieving the baking tray when I felt five hot fingertips delicately brush the back of my neck.
"You can cook as well?" Malia said, her tone pleasantly surprised. "That smells lovely. Are you sure I can't just marry you now? I could be persuaded..."
"Don't tempt me." I said, setting the baking tray down on the worktop, using a palette knife to transfer two of the toasted bagel halves each to our plates before using the pepper mill to season the miniature pizzas with a sprinkling of cracked peppercorns mixed with Szechuan pepper. I transferred the plates from the worktop to the breakfast bar, feeling my cheeks flush when I saw Malia standing next to me, dressed in nothing more than a damp towel wrapped around her willowy torso. From my higher vantage point - I was a good 25cm taller than her - I had an enticing view down the front of her towel into the shadows of her cleavage. "Wait, I think you just did..."
Malia and I sat on adjacent stools at the breakfast bar, sipping from glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice and taking bites from the crispy, baked bagels in silence, exchanging slightly bewildered, but satisfied glances, reflecting on the extraordinary events of the morning and night before.
"Where did you get that recipe from, Gus? I'll have to steal it." Malia asked, wiping away traces of tomato puree from the corners of her lips with a napkin.
"I just threw together some leftovers. It's a side effect of having a Scottish mother. Being creative with what you've got. Mother would never throw anything away unless it was moulding and wouldn't buy more food in unless there wasn't enough to feed everyone, so she'd combine ingredients you'd never think would go together. Occasionally you get a hit."
"They're amazing." Malia said, smiling as she finished off her last few mouthfuls.
"The egg yolks were meant to be runny. I'll have to add them later next time." I shrugged, my paranoid inner critic searching as always for something to do better.
"I want to be here when you try the improved version." Malia leant over to kiss me gently on the lips.
"Then you definitely want to do this again?"
"Fuck yes." Malia sounded appalled that I would ask the question. "Gus, I like you. I really like you. You know, it's funny. When I picked you up yesterday, the only thing I wanted was a good night. I definitely got more than I bargained for."
"Well, like my mother always told me, make sure you wear clean underwear every day, because you never know when you're going to meet the love of your life or get run over by a bus."
"I've got to meet your mother." Malia laughed. "She sounds like quite a character."
"Oh, you have no idea..." I smiled back.
"I like the way we're doing this the wrong way around." Malia said, smirking knowingly. "Normally people would get to know each other first and then exchange bodily fluids."
"Some people would argue that sexual compatibility is more important than having common interests." I replied, assuming the role of devil's advocate. "I think we can agree that we're sexually compatible."
"So why don't we play a game of Favourites? Thirty questions each?"
"Favourites? I'm not sure I'm familiar with that one."
"It's a dating game. Favourite artist? Favourite film? Favourite cuisine? You must know it, surely."
"My dating technique usually isn't quite as sophisticated as that..." Malia replied dryly.
I made us a pot of coffee to fuel our question and answer session, which turned out to be highly illuminating. It appeared that Malia and I were both fans of early 21st Century ambient music and late 25th Century Augmented Reality cinema, Indian and Italian food and abstract sculpture. We disagreed on our favourite sports (Malia preferred aerobatic drone racing, whereas I would rather watch team sports) and Malia claimed to have a penchant for Opera, whilst I would rather remove my own teeth with pliers, without anaesthetic. Fortunately, she deemed these deficiencies in my character minor enough to be forgivable. With my own questions exhausted, Malia had the last query that would help determine whether we had suitably compatible temperaments to be a successful couple.
"Favourite position?" Malia asked, moistening her lips.
"Left wing." I replied, deadpan.
"What?" Malia's mouth fell open, bemused by my response.
"Sorry, you didn't mean in rugby union?" I tried to keep a straight face and failed.
"Gus! You... honestly!" Malia laughed, slapping my cheek gently before kissing me.
"What's yours?" I reflected the question back to her, nipping delicately at her earlobes.
"I can't describe it. Maybe I should show you." Malia let her towel fall to the floor and directed us back to the bed, lying on her back and pulling me down over her. "Fuck me like you did this morning. Fuck me like you love me..."
I was only too happy to oblige.
It was nearly five in the afternoon when Malia was finally ready to leave my quarters. We had exchanged neural link IDs so that we would be able to send each other messages over the FTL comms network and I had promised to meet her for lunch tomorrow before she departed on her trip to the Omega Nebula. We stood embracing in the doorway to my apartment, Malia's head tipped back to look up at me as I bent down to kiss her, luxuriating in the soft, moist warmth of her lips.
"I'm going to miss you, Gus." Malia breathed after breaking our kiss to come up for air. "Stay safe out there."
"I will, provided I've got you to come back to." I assured her, pressing her lithe figure to my torso. "I'll miss you, too."
"I'm sorry I've got to go. I wish we had another few days." Malia lamented.
"I wish we had another few weeks." I replied, caressing her cheek and neck tenderly. "But we'll see each other again."
"So it wasn't just the one night for you?"
"I really like you, too. I want to see where we go from here."
"Then be sure you make it back from your next patrol. I'll be waiting." Malia kissed me long and hard, her fingers gripping the front of my shirt, twisting and wrinkling the cotton.
We stared into each other's eyes, holding each other tight, silent save for our breathing. The moment was broken when the door buzzer to my quarters sounded.
"Gus, I'd better go. I've still got a lot of packing to do." Malia said, snapping out of her reverie. She gave me one last kiss before stepping out of my embrace. "You're still buying me lunch tomorrow?"
"I wouldn't miss it. 1300 at Bella Fiore?"
"It's a date." Malia agreed, squeezing my fingers and opening the hatch. Our hands parted reluctantly and Malia gave me a brief wave and a warm smile before brushing her way past the taller figure stood just outside the door and walking purposefully to the nearest lift, looking back over her shoulder at me with a wide grin.
I was so fixated on watching Malia that I didn't recognise the person who'd rung the buzzer until she started speaking.